While energy drinks are known to boost as person’s stamina and energy, they can also be highly addictive. These drinks contain high amounts of caffeine, which is just one of the reasons as to why a person can become addicted to drinking them. Drinking too many energy drinks in a short period of time can be very damaging to a person’s health. However, the effects can be far worse since addiction to energy drinks can heighten the risk of using other drugs and eventually suffering from drug abuse. The best way to avoid becoming addicted to energy drinks is by being educated about the dangers of these drinks and the links that they have to addiction.
Troublesome Links Between Energy Drinks and Addiction
Energy drinks act as a stimulant that affect the reward centers of your brain. People experience more intense feelings of happiness as well as a substantial boost in energy. As is the case with prescription stimulant medications, it’s possible to become addicted to energy drinks. Consuming these beverages on an occasional basis shouldn’t cause any problems. However, regular consumption can start making the body dependent on the drink in order to receive the energy that’s necessary for normal bodily functions. When the body and brain become dependent on energy drinks or a similar drug, it’s possible for side effects and withdrawal symptoms to develop whenever the substance hasn’t been consumed for a long time, which will in turn heighten cravings of the substance.
While addiction to energy drinks is harmful, the addicted individual may be prone to taking more serious drugs if their body starts to become tolerant to the effects of the energy drink. For instance, they may need to drink more of the beverage in order to receive the same energy boost that they once did. If so, this individual may start to experiment with other drugs that can provide them with the same boost or “high” that they were once able to achieve. A study that was performed by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that individuals who regularly consume energy drinks have a much higher chance of taking prescription stimulants and cocaine. This study has found that the risk of alcohol abuse is also greater.
While energy drinks have yet to be classified as gateway drugs, there are some dangerous links between these beverage and drug abuse and addiction. Keep in mind that this stimulant affects adolescent brains more severely than it does with adults. Teenagers who consume high amounts of energy drinks during their adolescent years will oftentimes turn to the use and eventual abuse of more serious drugs as they grow older. It’s also much easier for teenagers to build a strong tolerance to the effects of energy drinks than it is with adults.
Signs of Energy Drink Addiction
If you suspect that someone close to you may be suffering from an energy drink addiction, there are a wide variety of signs and symptoms that you should look for to help determine if treatment is necessary. When a person has started to become addicted to energy drinks, they will need to consume this caffeine so that their energy can reach normal levels. If these people don’t consume energy drinks for a certain amount of time, they will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms, which primarily include regular headaches and fatigue.
Mood changes and issues with concentration are also likely. Individuals who consume too many energy drinks will likely experience increased blood pressure, palpitations, and irregular heart rates. While it can sometimes be difficult to identify these symptoms, it’s important to look for any changes in a person’s behavior that come with drinking a large amount of energy drinks. These behavioral changes could be the first signs that the person is becoming addicted.
Additional Health Risks to Consider
Along with addiction, there are also some additional health risks that everyone should be aware of when regularly consuming energy drinks. Because of the high amount of caffeine found in energy drinks, it’s possible to become intoxicated from the caffeine, which means that withdrawal symptoms are possible. There’s even a chance that the addicted individual could overdose on caffeine, which could be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Some of the other health risks to keep in mind include:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Dental Problems
- Sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea
- Calcium deficiency
What Addiction Recovery Involves
Drug addiction is considered to be a chronic disease, which means that it’s essentially impossible to become fully cured from the disease once it has developed. In some ways, the body will always crave whatever drug or drink the addicted individual has become dependent on. However, addiction recovery is possible and can be very effective at lessening dependence on the drug in question. Any individual who has become addicted to another drug like cocaine because of their energy drink usage should seek addiction treatment immediately.
This treatment can either be administered in an inpatient or outpatient capacity. Outpatient treatment for addiction takes place several days each week for a couple of hours each day. The treatment will be provided at some sort of outpatient facility, which could be a medical office or a hospital. The addiction treatment provided in outpatient care is very similar to inpatient care but with the added benefit of being able to go home at anytime. Inpatient rehabilitation for a drug addiction or an addiction to energy drinks takes place in a residential facility where the patient will be required to stay 24/7 for a certain period of time, which could be anywhere from a month to more than a year.
When enrolling into an inpatient care program, treatment will begin with a detoxification process, which is designed to make sure that the drugs or energy drinks safely leave the body without causing severe withdrawal symptoms. Once the substances are out of the body, further treatment can begin. This treatment typically includes group therapy, individual counseling, and even family therapy if necessary. Group therapy aims to provide attendees with a welcoming and friendly atmosphere among people who are going through the exact same issues, while one-on-one counseling is designed to help the addicted individual identify what has caused their addiction, which should help them manage the addiction in the future.
While addiction to the caffeine found in energy drinks is problematic, the high that’s caused by strong doses of caffeine can invariably make an individual yearn for something stronger. Addiction to caffeine can be difficult to overcome. However, this type of addiction is not nearly as severe as becoming addicted to prescription stimulants or cocaine, both of which provide a similar yet more potent boost of energy as energy drinks.
Addiction treatment is so important because of how damaging a long-term addiction to stimulants can be to a person’s health. When abusing these drugs for a lengthy period of time, both psychological and physical effects will invariably occur. The psychological effects of long-term abuse include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and depression. The physical effects can be even more severe and include:
- Muscle deterioration
- Cardiovascular damage
- Breathing issues
- Extreme weight loss
- Gastrointestinal problems
Dependence on stimulants and energy drinks can be reversed with treatment, which means that the long-term effects of this dependence can be mitigated if treated early enough.
If you believe that someone close to you has recently become addicted to energy drinks or has started taking more potent drugs because of this dependence, make sure that you seek addiction recovery as soon as possible.